My Journey To Parenthood: Leslie Perez

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This is how I started my fertility journey.

So, what did I think about fertility before diving into treatment? As a kid, I had this picture in my mind that getting married and having children would be a breeze. That classic saying, “First comes love, then comes marriage, and then the baby in the carriage.” So, I got married at 28, and my husband was 30, and we genuinely believed it would be smooth sailing from there.

I did not know about IVF, IUI, or fertility issues. It wasn’t something we had in our family, so it never crossed my mind. I was pretty naïve about it all. It wasn’t until we started trying and realized things weren’t happening as quickly as we expected that we began to suspect there might be something else going on.

I started tracking my ovulation.

I started learning about fertility issues by tracking my ovulation and chatting with friends who had been through similar experiences. But even then, I thought it would magically happen once I became super diligent about tracking.

The perception that conceiving is a cakewalk might come from only hearing the success stories and not so much about the struggles. The truth is, what seems “easy” for some isn’t necessarily the case for everyone. And you know what? That’s totally okay.

So, after a whole year of obsessing over ovulation trackers and peeing on sticks, we finally decided to take a break. We felt like we were putting too much pressure on ourselves, you know?

I was pregnant.

A positive pregnancy test stick in front of large black dog
My positive pregnancy test and dog.

Back in 2017, over Labor Day weekend, I thought my period was starting. And at that moment, I felt this crushing disappointment, thinking, “Okay, we’ll try again.” But then something strange happened—it only lasted two days, which was unusual. And then, out of nowhere, I was hit with excruciating pain. My husband rushed me to emergency care. It turns out I was pregnant! You’d think that would be a cause for celebration, right? But no, I burst into tears because, by that point, we had been trying for two whole years.

Unfortunately, the bleeding didn’t stop. We sought help from an OB-GYN, and they broke the news—it was an “ectopic pregnancy.” I had to endure 14 weeks of HSG levels before finally reaching zero. Causing me to burst into tears once more, knowing I was pregnant and losing it so suddenly.

A few days after, I’ll never forget that moment when I was hanging blinds in my house, and suddenly, it felt like I was stabbed. I crumpled to the floor and immediately called my husband. We rushed to the hospital, and that’s when they told us that my tubes had ruptured. They had to remove my left fallopian tube. Talk about a rough start to my fertility journey.

And that was just the beginning. In the fall of 2017, I experienced my first ectopic pregnancy, which resulted in the loss of my left fallopian tube. Then, in May 2018, I had a heartbreaking miscarriage. And if that wasn’t enough, in September 2018, I faced yet another ectopic pregnancy. Those were tough times. I can still vividly remember those moments, and those pregnancies will always stay with me. I think any mother who’s gone through miscarriages can relate to that heavy burden.

Second time is a charm right? Not for me.

Fast forward to my post-op appointment, and that’s when the OB-GYN referred me to a fertility specialist and didn’t see her till 2019 when I did a whole work of tests checking for egg reserve.

In the fall of 2019, we finally had our egg retrieval. Unfortunately, out of the 6 eggs we retrieved, only 4 fertilized. And when we sent them for testing, they all came back abnormal. The doctor suspected we might be carriers of something, so they recommended chromosomal testing. But turns out, everything came back clear. No issues were found.

Then, as if the universe knew we needed a breather, the pandemic hit. It gave us a welcomed break. And then, in 2021, my company dropped the exciting news—they were adding infertility benefits to our coverage starting January 2022.

I didn't give up and tried again, this time with my benefits finally in.

So, after what happened in 2019, I had a realization about IVF. When you dive into it, you feel like you’ve got this guaranteed ticket because all this science and research backs you up. But truth be told, it’s still a chance—a roll of the dice.

Around the time I was searching for a new doctor, my company introduced fertility benefits, and as I conducted my research, Dr. Lin and RFC consistently stood out. The entire staff and nurses at RFC were incredibly supportive and welcoming. In addition, the law firm I worked for in Downtown LA had partnered with Progyny to provide fertility benefits to employees. So when I learned about the inclusion of fertility benefits, it was an obvious choice for me to continue my journey with RFC. And this was when we met Dr. Lin.

Dr. Lin really left an impression on me.

Now, Dr. Lin, he’s something else. He’s straightforward and no-nonsense. We came prepared with all our questions, and he appreciated that. He assured us that he was going to make things happen for us, and we trusted his word.

Things began to change when we started fresh and chatted with Dr. Lin. He laid out all the options and recommendations and was seriously thorough. He caught things that were missed before. We had a solid plan and followed his protocols to maximize our chances. It may have taken a bit longer for us to return to RFC, but I felt I was in the best hands possible.

It was going to be different this time.

When my husband and I met Jennifer, she was like a breath of fresh air. Going to a new doctor can be nerve-wracking, but her comforting personality instantly put us at ease.  Jennifer was absolutely amazing. She understood where I came from and patiently walked me through everything. I repeatedly asked her the same ten questions, especially about grading and all those details.

And let me tell you, the front desk team was so welcoming! From the moment we walked in, we felt right at home.

I remember coming out of one of the appointments, and my husband turned to me and said, “This feels different. I’ve got confidence.” And you know what? It really felt different with Dr. Lin and the whole team at RFC. They made us feel taken care of and supported every step of the way. So even though deep down, I knew it was still a chance we were taking, it felt different, making all the difference.

So, we decided to go to RFC with Dr. Lin this time and dive straight into IVF.

How my first IVF treatment with RFC went.

Our first egg retrieval was a wild ride. We managed to retrieve 14 eggs! Feeling hopeful, we sent 6 of them for genetic testing (PGT), and to our joy, 2 came back normal. We were getting all prepped for the transfer when Dr. Lin, our amazing fertility doc, spotted something unexpected. He discovered not just 1 or 2 but 6 polyps in my uterus. Thank goodness he caught them. So, he put me on some medication to clear those pesky polyps before we moved forward.

They also had fertility acupuncture!

One thing that also set RFC apart from others was that they offered fertility acupuncture.

During my second transfer, Iris happened to be on vacation. But when I finally saw her, it was like stepping into a new world. I felt like I was floating on a cloud during the entire session. It was so incredibly relaxing; I can’t even put it into words. If you’re going through fertility treatments, I highly recommend trying acupuncture.

What’s impressive is that Iris brought up things I hadn’t considered before. Like, who would have thought that being cold could affect fertility? But she pointed it out, and I realized I was constantly feeling chilly. Then, she gave me some tools and tips to warm up my body and create a better environment for the baby. By the end of the session, she was like, “You’re warm now!” It was such an eye-opening experience.

a woman's hands holding up a cup of water
Room temperature water makes a difference!

Do you know what else I did? I stopped drinking cold water. I was obsessed with nugget ice and always had a glass of cold water by my side. But Iris made me realize that switching to room-temperature water could make a big difference. And you know what? It really did help tremendously.

I can’t recommend Iris and acupuncture enough. It’s been a game-changer for me, and I’m so glad I gave it a shot. Trust me; you won’t regret it!

I found out that I had a miscarriage gene.

Finally, in August 2022, we had our first transfer. We were so excited, but unfortunately, it was called a “chemical pregnancy.” The causes of chemical pregnancies can be hormonal imbalances and blood-clotting problems. Unfortunately, we had never been diagnosed with neither of those two causes by our previous doctors.

But when this happened, Dr. Lin talked about the possibility of us being carriers of the miscarriage gene, so he would treat us as if we had it, and I would take the blood thinners to see if we knew, and both came positive for this gene. It was a total surprise, but also a huge relief, to finally have a reason why my body was treating pregnancies like blood clots. It explained so much.

Once we were able to address my miscarriage gene, we underwent an egg retrieval process and retrieved a total of 15 eggs. Of those, 7 embryos made it to the testing stage, and 3 came back as normal! Meanwhile, we also had the 2 additional embryos from our previous cycle. 5 days later, we did a frozen embryo transfer.

One day, we received a call.

After our transfer day, we had to wait a couple of weeks before we could confirm if my embryo had successfully implanted.

We then finally received the news we had been dreaming of—a positive pregnancy test. We also had 3 more embryos waiting for us. Words cannot express the overwhelming happiness and gratitude we felt at that moment. RFC played an integral role in making our dream of starting a family come true.

Reflecting on my journey.

Looking back at all the setbacks we faced, we learned something important from each one. It helped us become more resilient and prepared for success the next time. We had been trying for three long years. Then, we got married in 2019, and it took us four years to get pregnant.

It’s been a journey filled with ups and downs, making the destination even more special. We’re so grateful for everything we’ve been through because it has brought us to this beautiful moment of expecting our little miracle.

This whole journey has brought my husband and me closer together. We’ve had deep conversations and opened up to each other in ways we never imagined. Having a kid will be a whole new ballgame, and we’re ready to tackle whatever challenges come our way. This journey has given us the strength and confidence to face anything that comes our way.

Communication is key.

If someone feels hopeless in their fertility journey, their feelings are 100% valid. I’ve experienced those moments where it seemed like having a child was not meant for us. However, what brought me comfort was connecting with others and hearing their stories of going through IVF. It’s easy to feel isolated during this process but remember you are not alone.

I distinctly recall when we faced our first miscarriage; leaning on my support system made a significant difference. Sharing our struggles and listening to success stories from others reminded us that there is indeed a chance for success at the end of the day.

A woman in grey sweater holding someone's hand.
Find your support!

If someone feels hopeless in their fertility journey, their feelings are 100% valid. I’ve experienced those moments where it seemed like having a child was not meant for us. However, what brought me comfort was connecting with others and hearing their stories of going through IVF. It’s easy to feel isolated during this process but remember you are not alone.

I distinctly recall when we faced our first miscarriage; leaning on my support system made a significant difference. Sharing our struggles and listening to success stories from others reminded us that there is indeed a chance for success at the end of the day.

I found it really helpful to have heart-to-heart conversations with my family members. You know, sometimes they’re just scared of saying the wrong thing, and that’s totally understandable. But it made a difference when I opened up and was honest with them. It let them know how they could support me in the best way possible, and that’s what matters most. So don’t be afraid to have those candid chats with your loved ones—they want to be there for you, and being honest about what you need will bring you closer together.

After our second ectopic pregnancy, we didn’t jump straight into fertility treatments. Our OB-GYN tried to be comforting by saying, “Well, at least you did get pregnant,” but honestly, it didn’t feel like much consolation at the time.

Instead, I decided to open up and share the challenges of trying to conceive and the emotional roller coasters I was riding. And you know what? The response blew me away. I received a flood of messages from people I knew offering comfort and other women sharing their stories too. It’s incredible how a moment of vulnerability can spark courage in others to open up and share their journeys. Before I knew it, we had created this little support community, which felt amazing. Together, we uplifted and encouraged one another through the ups and downs of this wild ride called fertility.

It was all worth it.

ultrasound scan of fetus in front of tan teddy bear with purple bow.
RFC gave me a teddy bear!
An IVF baby pictured with fertility syringes
My baby with my injections.
Newborn baby laying down wearing blue and green striped onesie.
My baby Christian

Now, during my pregnancy, I’m still taking blood thinners. Let me tell you, though, they do not compare to the progesterone shots. But they were quite the experience!

But I would do absolutely anything for this baby. Every minor inconvenience and every challenge along the way is worth it.

We are so excited. You won’t believe how excited my mother-in-law is—she threw this baby shower that blew me away! Seriously, it felt more like a wedding than anything else. I can’t even express how grateful I am for all of this. It’s been a long road, but we’re finally nearing the end. We can’t wait to meet our little Bobby!

Thank you, RFC. You’ve really been an extended family for me.

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